Anyway, December includes the double whammy of my birthday and Christmas, so it's become tradition to give a CD shopping list to my parents to pick from as presents. I tend to get the odd voucher, too, so that normally adds to the listening pile in the days afterwards. The list of albums I 'need' grows and grows each year, to the extent that I already have a list several pages long on my PC. As you would no doubt expect from the geek tendencies I've already demonstrated, it's in alphabetical order...so I may as well continue in the same vein:
Alkaline Trio - Agony & Irony/Crimson/Good Mourning/Maybe I'll Catch Fire/Remains
It's strange how some bands pass you by, or you hear a song, dismiss them as 'not your thing', then several years later hear something you like and find yourself changing your mind. Alkaline Trio are one such band. I think the turning point came when they were due to play Bristol with a band I'd previously seen (and liked) as support, which led me to listening to more of their stuff online to decide whether I should go. Needless to say, I ended up buying a ticket - ironically, the support band were a disappointment that evening - but I enjoyed Alkaline Trio and have been catching up on their albums ever since.
Having already bought their self-titled compilation of EPs and the albums 'From Here To Infirmary' and 'Goddamnit' some months earlier, the Amazon birthday voucher (cheers Chris!) went on five more of their albums, bought cheaply secondhand. Incidentally, is buying CDs secondhand any 'better' than downloading them illegally? I suppose they at least would've got the money first time around...and I guess it makes more sense to 'recycle' an unwanted CD than buy a new one. I digress. Of these five albums, 'Good Mourning' is probably the one I like the least, which isn't to say I don't like it at all, but it's hard to pick a standout song. Here are a few of my favourite tunes:
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Quite often, it seems to me that award-winning, critically-acclaimed, millions-selling albums are a disappointment. Happily, this is an exception and deserves all the plaudits it's been given, in my humble opinion. One advantage of not buying an album on the day of release: I ended up getting the 'deluxe' edition, with two bonus tracks, a code to download two more and a DVD. Anyone who bought the 'normal' version was probably (rightly) peeved when this came out a few months later...
Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare/Humbug
Speaking of disappointing, millions-selling albums - definite 'second album syndrome' on 'Favourite Worst Nightmare', which for the most part, sounds like all the songs which were rejected as not being good enough for the first album. It's not awful, but there are only about an EPs worth of decent tunes on here. Funnily enough, the Arctics were another band I voiced my dislike of early on, but then eventually I came round (much to the amusement of certain friends), although I'm sure several less well-championed bands in a similar vein released ignored albums which are better than 'Favourite Worst Nightmare'.
'Humbug', on the other hand, is far superior - it seems less like a rehash of what they had already done, a bit different and all the better for it. I expect the first album will remain a millstone around their necks, though.
Ash - Twilight Of The Innocents
You kind of know what you're going to get from an Ash album, which is both a compliment and an insult at the same time. They stick to what they know, but sometimes that can be a good thing.
Boy Kill Boy - Stars And The Sea
Anyone remember this lot? They seemed to be The Next Big Thing for about five minutes, but split up shortly after this second album was released to general indifference. A shame, as they're certainly no worse than some other bands around at the same time who got lucky and lasted a lot longer. If anyone happens to be interested, their singer Chris Peck recently emerged with a new band (Chris Peck and The Family Tree), who are somewhat folkier than Boy Kill Boy.
Brakes - Touchdown
I blimmin' love this band. It seems they are something of an acquired taste and polarise opinion, but those who like them seem to rave about them. The 'jokey' songs of their earlier days have lessened in number, but they still have a sense of humour. I have three of their albums now and still couldn't pick a favourite.
Bromheads Jacket - On The Brain
Bromheads' first album was arguably my favourite of the year in, er, whichever year it came out (2006?), so this had a lot to live up to. Inevitably, it's not quite as good, but still a pretty decent effort. 'Speaker Box' seemed a rather odd choice for a single.
Gaz Brookfield - Live From The West End Of The M4 Corridor
Unquestionably my 'local' artist of last year, who I first saw at the Acoustic Music Festival in January, a possibly-restraining-order-inducing number of times after that and culminating in a triumphant headline gig at the Fleece just before Christmas as a launch gig for this live album. If you haven't seen him yet, there's really no excuse - Gaz played 170 gigs in 2011 and intends to better this in 2012...
Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler - This Is Christmas
It feels a little odd to be writing about a Christmas album in February, but still...I bought this after their in-store performance at Rise Records in December. Here's the Christmas number 1 which never was:
Belated Happy New Year, one and all :)